Gnocchi with peas, mushrooms, and truffle oil

15 Jul

Summer is truly here in Massachusetts and with it comes bountiful, fresh, local produce. I am lucky to have close friends who belong to a CSA/farm share and invite me to participate in their weekly “harvest” dinners utilizing this amazing summer produce! (I obviously contribute dessert) An added bonus of their CSA is that they are allowed to go out to the farm in western Massachusetts to pick seasonal fruits and vegetables. I was fortunate enough the other week to be invited along to “pick our own” peas and strawberries!

And by pick peas and strawberries I really mean that I ate at least 2 for every 1 I picked… (strawberry stained hands not pictured below)

Inspired by a recent gnocchi and pea dish at Sportello in Boston, I decided to emulate it with my freshly picked and shelled peas!  I had never made gnocchi before but decided it couldn’t be that hard…turns out it is a littler harder than I expected, especially when you don’t have the right equipment.

I have long scoffed “uni-taskers” aka kitchen gadgets that only serve one purpose, such as a panini press,and similarly was skeptical about purchasing a potato ricer.  Therefore I was excited to find a smitten kitchen recipe for gnocchi that said you could use a box grater instead to grate the potatoes.  However, after making these once, I have now invested in a potato ricer!  Hand grating potatoes for a double batch of gnocchi was quite time and energy consuming.  I actually almost threw the grated potatoes out and purchased already made gnocchi because I feared my gooey hand grated potatoes would never turn into gnocchi.  But I persevered and somehow, with the addition of eggs, a lot of flour, and a lot of elbow grease, made something that resembled and, more importantly, tasted like gnocchi!  (Note: I ended up needing a lot more flour to get dough that was workable and not too sticky)

The gnocchi only take about 2 minutes to cook in boiling water and can be made a few hours ahead of time.  Just lay the cooked gnocchi on a parchment lined baking sheet to stop the cooking process and keep at room temperature until ready to eat.  Then add to your sauce for a few minutes to reheat before serving.

The soft, fluffy gnocchi paired perfectly with a light mushroom cream sauce and the fresh, just cooked peas for a burst of color and texture.  The dish was then finished with a drizzle of truffle oil (optional but really makes the dish) and parmesan cheese.  Strawberry and peach crisp with sweet corn ice cream rounded out the meal for a perfect summer harvest dinner!

 

Gnocchi with peas, mushrooms, and truffle oil

(serves about 4)

For the Gnocchi (from smitten kitchen):

2 pounds (905 grams) Russet potatoes (3 to 4)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (156 to 190 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
10 oz of fresh mushrooms of a variety (crimini, oyster, shitake, etc.)
1/4 cup sherry, port, or medeira wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid from gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. Chopped fresh chives
4 oz. finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
drizzle of truffle oil

For the gnocchi:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size, until a thin knife can easily pierce through them.

Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes after baking, then peel them with a knife or a peeler (PSA from your friendly burn surgeon: DO NOT BURN YOURSELF). Run the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater (Based on my first experience I would recommend purchasing a potato ricer). Cool them to lukewarm, about another 10 minutes. Add the egg and salt, mixing to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour, and mix to combine. Add the next 1/2 cup flour, mixing again. Add 1/4 cup flour, and see if this is enough to form a dough that does not easily stick to your hands. If not, add the last 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is soft but only a little sticky, and able to hold its shape enough to be rolled into a rope. Knead the dough together briefly, gently, on a counter, just for a minute. (You may need to add even more flour to get the right consistency as I did)

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch lengths. At this point, you can use a floured fork or a gnocchi board to give each piece the traditional ridges (this step is just for looks but is definitely not necessary and I skipped it). Place the gnocchi on a a parchment-lined tray.

[Do ahead: If you'd like to freeze gnocchi for later user, do so on this tray. Once they are frozen, drop them into a freezer bag until needed. No need to defrost before cooking them; it will just take a minute or two longer.]

Place the gnocchi, a quarter-batch at a time, into a pot of boiling well-salted water. Cook the gnocchi until they float — about 2 minutes — then drain but make sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup cooking liquid for the sauce.

For the sauce and final product:

Heat the 2 tbs of oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Saute mushrooms until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the wine and cook until reduced by half.  Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.

Add the cooked gnocchi, peas, butter, and reserved cooking liquid and stir to combine.  Cook for about 2 minutes until gnocchi is heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste and then add chives, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and truffle oil.

Serve and top with additional parmesan if desired.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

8 Jul

With the announcement today that Crumbs Bake Shop is closing all of its stores, I decided a commemorative cupcake blog post was in order.  While the cupcake craze may be on a decline, I will never tire of these mini, tasty treats.  As the saying goes “Good things come in small packages”.  Perhaps I am just partial to this given my own petite size… But really?  Cake, frosting, perhaps a surprise filling,  all in one small, portable serving…what’s not to love?

These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are especially delectable and were the perfect way to celebrate my last 24 hour shift in the emergency room this year.  I work with some incredible doctors, physician assistants and nurses in the emergency room and brought these in as a way to thank them for all of their hard work and for keeping me sane during my four months of every other day, 24 hour call.

A word of warning…with all the butter that goes into creating these cupcakes, one cupcake alone may be enough to actually send you to the emergency room! There are 3 components to the cupcakes and they all involve butter!  The process begins by making an egg-less cookie dough that is frozen ahead of time.  These frozen cookie dough balls are then placed into a brown-sugar based cupcake batter.  Once in the oven, the frozen cookie dough starts to bake but retains its soft, dough-like texture that is the highlight of the cupcake.  Finally, the cupcake  is topped with a brown sugar frosting and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.  The final product is a pretty rich cupcake that has the flavor of chocolate chip cookies in every component.  While, as a doctor, I wouldn’t recommend eating one every day, they are the perfect special occasion treat!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

(recipe from kevinandamanda.com, makes 24 cupcakes)

For the cookie dough:
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:
3 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
3 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

To make the cookie dough, combine the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 mins. Beat in milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a 1.5 tablespoon scoop, shape the dough into 24 balls. Freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet overnight.

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total).  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir together to blend.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Blend in the vanilla.

Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, fill the prepared cupcake liners 2/3 full with the cupcake batter. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on the top center of each cupcake.

Bake at 350 for 16-18 mins.

To make the frosting, combine the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.  Beat in the salt, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth and combined.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips!

Deconstructed Lemon Cream Pie Parfait

23 Jun

Once again, I’m behind on blogging…The end of the year got a bit busy after I returned from vacation leaving little time for culinary prose in between 24 hour emergency room shifts.  But don’t worry! Despite a minor blog hiatus, I have made some time for baking and have a few delicious desserts to show off in the coming weeks.

This dessert was created after returning from my 5 day vacation in New Orleans.  My close friends and I, inspired by Top Chef, ventured to New Orleans solely to eat…and eat we did (with a little drinking and jazz along the way)! After 5 days of eating rich, heavy NOLA cuisine, my body needed a break.

 

Unfortunately/fortunately we had already planned a dinner when we got back and I was in charge of dessert.  In search of something lighter (or at least something that tasted lighter) my mind immediately turned to lemon.  There’s something about lemon that just lightens any dish or dessert it is added to.  I considered making Joanne Chang’s lemon bars but then had the brilliant idea for a deconstructed lemon cream pie using her lemon curd recipe.

This dessert layers delicious and tart lemon curd, with fluffy whipped mascarpone cream (I may have a slight obsession with mascarpone cream), and crumbled graham cracker crust.  For an added touch you can add candied lemon peel and/or fresh berries.  While the final product wasn’t exactly “light”, no one had any trouble finishing their parfait!

Deconstructed Lemon Cream Pie Parfait

(makes 8 parfaits with extra lemon curd…for snacking or other desserts)

Lemon Curd (from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Lust Bars)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 grams) fresh lemon juice (14 to 16 lemons)
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
½ cup (60 grams) heavy cream
8 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, and cream. Place over medium-high heat and heat to just below a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended. Slowly whisk in the granulated sugar until combined. Remove the lemon juice mixture fromheat and gradually whisk a little of it into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the hot liquid into the eggs, a little at a time, until all of it has been incorporated.

When all of the lemon juice mixture has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent the eggs from scrambling, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly. To test, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; the curd should hold the trail for a second or two before it fills.

Remove the lemon curd from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl or pitcher. Whisk in the salt and vanilla.  Chill for 4 hours until cool.

Whipped Mascarpone Cream

8 oz whipping cream, chilled
8 oz mascarpone cream
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Place the whipping cream in a stand mixer with a whip attachment and beat cream until just before soft peaks start to form.  Add in the mascarpone cream and beat together until stiff peaks form. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until combined.  Chill for at least an hour.

Graham Cracker Crust

7 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil.  Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over prepared baking sheet.   Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.   Crumble again into crumbs to use for parfaits.

Candied Lemon Peel (optional)

click here for recipe from epicurious.com

Assembly:

Layer lemon curd, whipped mascarpone cream and graham cracker crumbs into 8 glasses.  You should be able to layer each ingredient twice.  You will have extra lemon curd and graham cracker crumbs.  Top with candied lemon peel and/or berries if desired.

Kale Salad with Pistachio Dressing

15 May

There’s a rumor that kale is on its way out.  Restaurants have been overwhelmed by kale this past year- kale chips, kale salad, pasta and soups laden with kale- it’s everywhere!    And it’s only a matter of time before everyone tires of this healthy leafy vegetable in favor of another fleeting food trend.

In the meantime, a new amazing restaurant in Cambridge, Alden & Harlow, has ironically created “the ubiquitous kale salad” to feature on its menu.  If you live in the Boston area and haven’t been to Alden & Harlow yet, run (don’t walk) there and immediately order this salad (and beef neck, and grilled clams, and onion dip, and the secret burger…and don’t forget the drinks!).  There is nothing “ubiquitous” about it.  The salient feature of the salad is a creamy pistachio dressing, which dresses crispy kale and is then topped with additional pistachios and thinly sliced fennel.  While it appears quite simple, it is unlike any salad I have ever had.  I’ve had cravings for it so often that I finally had to try to create my own version!  My version strayed a little from the Alden & Harlow salad by adding quickly seared brussel sprout leaves and cranberries (instead of fennel) but feel free to add your own accoutrements. 

 While this pales in comparison to the original “ubiquitous kale salad”, it definitely satsifies my craving when I can’t make the trek for the real thing at Alden & Harlow (or they don’t have any reservations!).

Pistachio Dressing:

1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp honey
1 garlic clove (can add more if you want it to be more garlicky)
salt and pepper to taste

 

Place all of the above in a food processor and blend until thoroughly pureed.  Add extra water if too thick, or extra pisctachios if too thin.  Use to dress chopped kale (or greens of your choice but pick something hearty to stand up to the bold, creamy dressing) and top with additional pistachios and toppings of your choosing.

 

Chocolate Covered Matzo Ice Cream

28 Apr

I have a confession to make…I actually like matzo!  Most Jews I know complain every Passover of the cardboard, constipation inducing “cracker” that we force ourselves to eat for a week to remember our ancestors and the bread that didn’t have time to rise in their escape from oppression.  However, I actually secretly look forward to this time of year and savor all the delicious ways I can conjure up to enjoy matzo.  From simple matzo with whipped butter and salt, to matzo with cream cheese and lox, matzo pizza, matzo with nutella, matzo brei, and of course, chocolate covered matzo (although pretty much anything tastes good covered in chocolate).

Matzo love aside, it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that Passover is one of my favorite holidays with all of its delicious foods and opportunities for entertaining (aka the seder).  I have been making the same menu since 2006 (from that year’s Bon Appetit Passover special) but I like to try to add something new every year to mix it up.  This year in anticipation of having 15 guests, I decided to make an extra dessert and was determined to come up with a Passover themed ice cream.  My first idea was to make a charoset inspired treat with Manischewitz ice cream as the base but some of my friends were strongly opposed for some reason…(it’s happening next year!).  My second idea was a little less experimental: vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered matzo.  After getting the OK from my friends I found a recipe for matzo croccante (aka matzo brittle or chocolate and caramel covered matzo) and got to work.

This ice cream uses Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s recipe for vanilla ice cream as the base and then adds the matzo croccante as well as additional chocolate and toasted almonds.  I recommend using different chocolates for the croccante and for the additional chocolate to add different flavors- I used milk chocolate for this.

One disclaimer is that my vanilla ice cream base is not technically kosher for Passover, depending on how strict you are, since it has corn starch and corn syrup in it.  The corn syrup can easily be substituted with honey or glucose and arrowroot or potato starch would be possible substitutes for the corn starch.  Alternatively, you can use any vanilla ice cream of your choosing.

I had so much food at my Passover dinner (must be a Jewish maternal instinct) that I almost forgot to serve the ice cream!  It turned out to be the surprise hit, though, and I may be forced to make it again next year!

Chocolate Covered Matzo Ice Cream

Matzo-Almond Croccante (from Bon Appetit)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
5 sheets matzo
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 72% cacao), melted
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (such as Maldon)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Place matzo on sheet in a single layer, breaking as needed and overlapping slightly, leaving no gaps.

Stir sugar, margarine, honey, and 1/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is a deep amber color, 13–15 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over matzo. Immediately sprinkle almonds over. Let cool.

Drizzle melted chocolate over caramel. Sprinkle salt over. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Break into small bite-sized pieces.

In the meantime make the ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream (from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar,  corn syrup, vanilla bean seeds and bean in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Remove vanilla bean.  Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Assembly

Vanilla ice cream
3 oz chocolate of your choosing, chopped
3 oz toasted almonds
1/2 of the matzo- almond croccante from above

Transfer ice cream to a bowel and stir in matzo-almond croccante, chocolate and almonds.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Serve with extra matzo croccante as the garnish!

Coconut Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

23 Mar

I got tired of waiting for warm weather to debut these cupcakes…if it’s not going to feel like spring, it can at least taste like spring!  While I tend to gravitate towards chocolate desserts, it’s hard to say no to a delicious piece of key lime pie…especially when that piece of key lime pie comes in the form of a cute cupcake.

I came up with the idea for these cupcakes from my Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes that I made last year.  However, I decided to change the cupcake base and adapt one of my favorite cupcake recipes: Coconut cupcakes from The Barefoot Contessa.  (If you haven’t made these cupcakes before, you should add them to your todo list now-they’re that good!  …And then you should make these key lime pie cupcakes!)  My version here omits the almond extract (while delicious, I felt it would add conflicting flavors) and decreases the amount of coconut used.  The end result is a moist, white cupcake with a hint of coconut- the perfect canvas for the remaining cupcake components.

The cupcakes are then filled with a tart lime curd (adapted from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Curd recipe).  The remaining lime curd is used to make a fluffy lime frosting before getting topped with a graham cracker crust crumb.

Now a word on using key limes versus regular limes… While my local whole foods did have actual key limes, they are more expensive than regular limes and they are much smaller which increases the work of juicing them substantially.  Since I was feeling lazy (relatively speaking, I mean I did make these cupcakes entirely from scratch) I decided to use regular limes to save myself some time and muscle strength.  Key limes are supposed to be slightly more tart and bitter than regular limes so if anything, I just ended up with a sweeter cupcake!

Coconut Cupcakes (modified from Barefoot Contessa)20140317-163515.jpg

Makes 18-20 cupcakes

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 4 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely

Lime Curd (Modified from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Curd)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

In a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat the lime juice and butter over medium-high heat until just under a boil. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Gradually whisk the hot lime juice mixture into the sugar and eggs.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Draw your finger along the back of the spoon; when the curd is done, it should hold the trail.

Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the curd, and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. Can be made 5 days ahead of time, keep refrigerated.

Lime Frosting

1/2 cup lime curd (above)
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a standmixer with a whip attachment, whip the butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar until combined. Add the lime curd and mix to combine. Gradually add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients. Add the cream and whip for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Graham Cracker Crust

7 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil.  Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over prepared baking sheet.   Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.   Crumble again into crumbs to use for topping cupcakes.

Assembly

Reserve 1/2 cup of lime curd for the frosting (above).  Pipe or inject the remaining lime curd into the center of the cupcakes.  I did this by using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (you can also use a syringe or if all else fails, cut a small cone out of the center of the cupcake and spoon in the lime curd).  Next, frost the tops of the cupcakes with the lime frosting- it doesn’t really matter if it looks pretty (unless you’re a perfectionist!) since you’ll be dipping the tops in the graham cracker crust crumbs next!

“Well, let’s give that key lime pie a day in court, and a big old glass of non-fat milk, if you please” ~Natural Born Killers

Spicy Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

15 Mar

 

Despite “springing forward” last weekend, winter continued to threaten this past week with snow showers and below freezing temperatures.  The return of the cold weather left me running for my earmuffs and mittens and craving warm, comforting foods like this quick and easy soup.  The beauty of this soup is that it only calls for 5 main ingredients (6 if you add noodles) and can be made in about 20 minutes…and it is actually healthy and contains no butter (I bet you never thought I could do it)! It derives most of it’s flavor from the spicy sausage but you can use a mixture of regular and spicy sausage, if desired, to tone down the spice level.   Enjoy and cross your fingers for warmer weather ahead!

Spicy sausage, white bean, and kale soup

(serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 to 1 lb spicy chicken sausage (about 3 links), casings removed
6 cups chicken broth
1 14oz can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of kale, chopped
handful of egg noodles (optional)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium/high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage and cook until browned.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to bring to a simmer and add white beans.  If using noodles, add these now and cook according to package directions (usually only several minutes).  In the final minute of cooking, mix in the kale until wilted.  Ladle into serving bowls and top, if desired, with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

 

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